The Most Reverend Bishop Emeritus John W. Yanta was recently presented the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland by Polish President Andrzej Duda and First Lady AgataKornhauser-Duda.
The presentation was made during the president’s trip to Our Lady of Czestochowa parish in Houston on June 13 according to a news release from the Polish Heritage Center.
The decoration is awarded to those living abroad for distinguished contributions to international cooperation. It was presented in recognition of the bishop’s many initiatives in the Polish community, most notably his vision and leadership in founding the Polish Heritage Center at Panna Maria, the site of the first and oldest permanent Polish settlement in the U.S. dating from 1854.
In addition, the Heritage Center was one of nine Texas Polonia organizations individually honored with the presentation of a Polish flag by Duda.
Yanta is the great-grandson of Polish immigrants who were part of the founding of Panna Maria. He grew up on the family farm near Runge. Yanta was the first Texan of Polish descent to become a Bishop. He was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of San Antonio at Immaculate Conception Parish in Panna Maria in 1994, then served as Bishop of the Archdiocese of Amarillo from 1997 until 2008, according to the news release.
The Polish Heritage Center, a $14-million facility when complete, will tell the stories of the Polish immigration and settlements in Texas. This high tech state-of-the-art 16,500 square feet center, has an estimated opening date of early 2020.
For more information, go to polishheritagecentertx.org.